The Story of the Champions of the Round Table
Part 6 out of 6
had recovered from the blow he ran unto Sir Boindegardus and catched the
spear in his hands and wrestled with such terrible strength that he plucked
it away from Sir Boindegardus. And having thus made himself master of that
spear, he brake it across his knee and flung it away.
[Sidenote: Percival slays Sir Boindegardus] Then Sir Boindegardus was in
furious rage, wherefore he drew his bright, shining sword with intent to
slay Percival. But when Percival saw what he would be at, he catched up his
javelin and, running to a little distance, he turned and threw it at Sir
Boindegardus with so cunning an aim that the point of the javelin entered
the ocularium of the helmet of Sir Boindegardus and pierced through the eye
and the brain and came out of the back of the head. Then Sir Boindegardus
pitched down from off his horse all into a heap upon the ground, and
Percival ran to him and stooped over him and perceived that he was dead.
Then Percival said: "Well, it would seem that I have put an end to a
terribly discourteous knight to ladies."
[Sidenote: King Arthur sends Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack in quest of
Percival] Now a little after Percival had quitted the pavilion of Queen
Guinevere, King Arthur and eleven noble knights of the court returned
thither from hawking, and amongst those knights was Sir Launcelot of the
Lake and Sir Lamorack of Gales. Then those who were of the Queen's court
told King Arthur what had befallen, and thereat the King felt great
displeasure toward Sir Kay. And he said: "Kay, not only hast thou been very
discourteous in not assuming this quarrel of the Queen's, but I believe
that thou, a well-approved knight, hast in thy fear of Sir Boindegardus
been the cause of sending this youth upon an adventure in which he will be
subject to such great danger that it may very well be that he shall hardly
escape with his life. Now I will that two of you knights shall follow after
that youth for to rescue him if it be not too late; and those two shall be
Sir Launcelot of the Lake and Sir Lamorack of Gales. So make all haste,
Messires, lest some misfortune shall befall this brave, innocent madman."
Thereupon those two knights mounted straightway upon their horses and rode
away in that direction whither Percival had gone.
[Illustration: Sir Percival & Sir Lamorack ride together]
_How Sir Percival was made knight by King Arthur; how he rode forth with
Sir Lamorack and how he left Sir Lamorack in quest of adventure upon his
own account; likewise how a great knight taught him craft in arms_.
So after a considerable time they came to that meadow-land where Percival
had found Sir Boindegardus.
[Sidenote: How the two knights find Percival in the meadow] But when they
came to that place they perceived a very strange sight. For they beheld one
clad all in armor of wattled willow-twigs and that one dragged the body of
an armed knight hither and thither upon the ground. So they two rode up to
where that affair was toward, and when they had come nigh enough, Sir
Launcelot said: "Ha, fair youth, thou art doing a very strange thing. What
art thou about?"
To him Percival said: "Sir, I would get those plates of armor off this
knight, and I know not how to do it!"
Then Sir Launcelot laughed, and he said: "Let be for a little while, and I
will show thee how to get the plates of armor off." And he said: "How came
this knight by his death."
Percival said: "Sir, this knight hath greatly insulted Queen Guinevere
(that beautiful lady), and when I followed him thither with intent to take
her quarrel upon me, he struck me with his spear. And when I took his spear
away from him, and brake it across my knee, he drew his sword and would
have slain me, only that I slew him instead."
Then Sir Launcelot was filled with amazement, and he said: "Is not that
knight Sir Boindegardus?" And Percival said: "Ay." Then Sir Launcelot said:
"Fair youth, know that thou hast slain one of the strongest and most
terrible knights in all the world. In this thou hast done a great service
unto King Arthur, so if thou wilt come with us to the court of King Arthur,
he will doubtless reward thee very bountifully for what thou hast done."
Then Percival looked up into the faces of Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack
and he perceived that they were very noble. So he smiled upon them and
said: "Messires, I pray you tell me who you are and what is your degree."
Then Sir Launcelot smiled in return and said: "I am called Sir Launcelot of
the Lake, and this, my companion, is called Sir Lamorack of Gales."
[Sidenote: Percival knoweth Sir Lamorack] Then Percival wist that he stood
in the presence of his own brother, and he looked into the countenance of
Sir Lamorack and marvelled how noble and exalted it was. And he felt a
great passion of love for Sir Lamorack, and a great joy in that love. But
he did not tell Sir Lamorack who he was, for he had learned several things
since he had come out into the world, and one was that he must not be too
hasty in such things. So he said to himself: "I will not as yet tell my
brother who I am, lest he shall be ashamed of me. But first I shall win me
such credit that he shall not be ashamed of me, and then I will acknowledge
to him who I am."
Then Sir Launcelot said: "I prithee, fair youth, tell me what is thy name
since I have told thee ours, for I find that I have great love for thee so
that I would fain know who thou art."
Then Percival said: "My name is Percival."
At that Sir Lamorack cried out: "I knew one whose name was Percival, and he
was mine own brother. And if he be alive he must now be just such a youth
as thou art."
Then Percival's heart yearned toward Sir Lamorack, so that he looked up and
smiled with great love into his face; yet he would not acknowledge to Sir
Lamorack who he was, but held his peace for that while.
Then Sir Launcelot said: "Now, fair youth, we will show you how to take the
armor off of this dead knight, and after we have done that, we shall take
you back to King Arthur, so that he may reward you for what you have done
in the way that he may deem best."
[Sidenote: The two knights arm Percival] So with that Sir Launcelot and
Sir Lamorack dismounted from their horses, and they went to that dead
knight and unlaced his armor and removed the armor from his body. And when
they had done that they aided Percival to remove the armor of wattled osier
twigs and they cased him in the armor of Sir Boindegardus; and thereafter
they all three rode back to that pavilion where the King and Queen were
But when King Arthur heard that Sir Boindegardus was dead he was filled
with great joy; and when he heard how it was that Percival had slain him,
he was amazed beyond measure; and he said to Percival: "Surely God is with
thee, fair youth, to help thee to perform such a worthy feat of arms as
this that thou hast done, for no knight yet hath been able to perform that
service." Then he said: "Tell me what it is that thou hast most desire to
have, and if it is in my power to give it to thee thou shalt have it."
Then Percival kneeled down before King Arthur, and he said: "Lord, that
which I most desire of all things else is to be made knight. So if it is in
thy power to do so, I pray thee to make me a knight-royal with thine own
Then King Arthur smiled upon Percival very kindly, and he said: "Percival,
it shall be as thou dost desire, and to-morrow I will make thee a knight."
[Sidenote: King Arthur makes Percival a knight-royal] So that night
Percival watched his armor in the chapel of a hermit of the forest, and the
armor that he watched was the armor that had belonged to Sir Boindegardus
(for Percival besought King Arthur that he might wear that armor for his
own because it was what he himself had won in battle). And when the next
morning had come, Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack brought Percival before
King Arthur, and King Arthur made him a knight.
After that Sir Percival besought King Arthur that he would give him leave
to depart from court so that he might do some worthy deed of arms that
might win him worship; and King Arthur gave him that leave he asked for.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival threatens Sir Kay] Then Sir Percival went to where
Sir Kay was sitting, and he said: "Messire, I have not forgot that blow you
gave that fair damsel yesterday when she spake so kindly to me. As yet I am
too young a knight to handle you; but by and by the time will come when I
shall return and repay you that blow tenfold and twentyfold what you gave!"
And at these words Sir Kay was in no wise pleased, for he wist that Sir
Percival would one day become a very strong and worthy knight.
Now all this while the heart of Sir Lamorack yearned very greatly toward
Sir Percival, though Sir Lamorack knew not why that should be; so when Sir
Percival had obtained permission to go errant, Sir Lamorack asked King
Arthur for leave to ride forth so as to be with him; and King Arthur gave
Sir Lamorack that leave.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack ride together] Thus it befell
that Sir Lamorack and Sir Percival rode forth together very lovingly and
cheerfully. And as they rode upon their way Sir Lamorack told Sir Percival
many things concerning the circumstances of knighthood, and to all that he
said Sir Percival gave great heed. But Sir Lamorack knew not that he was
riding with his own brother or that it was his own brother to whom he was
teaching the mysteries of chivalry, and Sir Percival told him nothing
thereof. But ever in his heart Sir Percival said to himself: "If God will
give me enough of His grace, I will some day do full credit unto thy
teaching, O my brother!"
Now, after Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack had travelled a great way, they
came at last out of that forest and to an open country where was a
well-tilled land and a wide, smooth river flowing down a level plain.
And in the centre of that plain was a town of considerable size, and a very
large castle with several tall towers and many roofs and chimneys that
stood overlooking the town.
That time they came thitherward the day was declining toward its close, so
that all the sky toward the westward shone, like, as it were, to a flame of
gold--exceedingly beautiful. And the highway upon which they entered was
very broad and smooth, like to a floor for smoothness. And there were all
sorts of folk passing along that highway; some afoot and some ahorseback.
Also there was a river path beside the river where the horses dragged
deep-laden barges down to the town and thence again; and these barges were
all painted in bright colors, and the horses were bedight with gay harness
and hung with tinkling bells.
All these things Sir Percival beheld with wonder for he had never seen
their like before; wherefore he cried out with amazement, saying: "Saints
of Glory! How great and wonderful is the world!"
Then Sir Lamorack looked upon him and smiled with great loving-kindness;
and he said: "Ha, Percival! This is so small a part of the world that it is
but a patch upon it."
Unto this Sir Percival made reply: "Dear Messire, I am so glad that I have
come forth into the world that I am hardly able to know whether I am in a
vision or am awake."
So, after a considerable while, they came to that town with its castle, and
these stood close beside the river--and the town and the castle were hight
Cardennan. And the town was of great consideration, being very well famed
for its dyed woollen fabrics.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack come to Cardennan] So Sir
Percival and Sir Lamorack entered the town. And when Sir Percival beheld
all the people in the streets, coming and going upon their businesses; and
when he beheld all the gay colors and apparels of fine fabrics that the
people wore; and when he beheld the many booths filled with rich wares of
divers sorts, he wist not what to think for the wonder that possessed him;
wherefore he cried out aloud, as with great passion: "What marvel do I
behold! I knew not that a city could be so great as this."
And again Sir Lamorack smiled very kindly upon him and said: "Sayst thou
so? Now I tell thee that when one compares this place with Camelot (which
is the King's city) it is as a star compared to the full moon in her
glory." And at that Sir Percival knew not what to think for wonder.
So they went up the street of the town until they came to the castle of
Cardennan and there requested admission. And when the name and the estate
of Sir Lamorack were declared, the porter opened the gate with great joy
and they entered. Then, by and by, the lord and the lady of the castle came
down from a carved wooden gallery and bade them welcome by word of mouth.
And after that sundry attendants immediately appeared and assisted Sir
Percival and Sir Lamorack to dismount and took their horses to the stable,
and sundry other attendants conducted them to certain apartments where they
were eased of their armor and bathed in baths of tepid water and given soft
raiment for to wear. After that the lord and the lady entertained them with
a great feast, where harpers and singers made music, and where certain
actors acted a mystery before them.
[Sidenote: How the two knights were welcomed by the lord and lady of the
castle] So these two knights and the lord and the lady of the castle ate
together and discoursed very pleasantly for a while; but, when the evening
was pretty well gone, Sir Lamorack bade good-night, and he and Sir Percival
were conducted to a certain very noble apartment where beds of down, spread
with flame-colored cloth, had been prepared for their repose.
Thus ended that day which was the first day of the knighthood of Sir
Percival of Gales.
Now though Sir Percival had travelled very contentedly with Sir Lamorack
for all that while, yet he had determined in his own mind that, as soon as
possible, he would leave Sir Lamorack and depart upon his own quest. For he
said to himself: "Lo! I am a very green knight as yet, and haply my brother
may grow weary of my company and cease to love me. So I will leave him ere
he have the chance to tire of me, and I will seek knighthood for myself.
After that, if God wills it that I shall win worthy knighthood, then my
brother will be glad enough to acknowledge me as his father's son."
So when the next morning had come, Sir Percival arose very softly all in
the dawning, and he put on his armor without disturbing Sir Lamorack. Then
he stooped and looked into Sir Lamorack's face and beheld that his brother
was still enfolded in a deep sleep as in a soft mantle. And as Sir Percival
gazed upon Sir Lamorack thus asleep, he loved him with such ardor that he
could hardly bear the strength of his love. But he said to himself: "Sleep
on, my brother, whilst I go away and leave thee. But when I have earned me
great glory, then will I return unto thee and will lay all that I have
achieved at thy feet, so that thou shalt be very glad to acknowledge me."
So saying to himself, he went away from that place very softly, and Sir
Lamorack slept so deeply that he wist not that Sir Percival was gone.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival leaves Sir Lamorack] Thereafter Sir Percival went
to the courtyard of the castle and he bade certain attendants to prepare
his horse for him, and they did so. And he bade certain others for to arm
him, and they did so. Thereupon he mounted his horse and left that castle
and rode away.
Now after Sir Percival had left Sir Lamorack still sleeping in the castle
as aforetold, he journeyed upon his way, taking great pleasure in all
things that he beheld. So he travelled all that morning, and the day was
very bright and warm, so that by and by he was an-hungered and athirst. So
after a while he came to a certain road that appeared to him to be good for
his purpose, so he took that way in great hopes that some adventure would
befall him, or else that he would find food and drink.
Then after a while he heard a bell ringing, and after he had followed that
bell for some distance, he came to where was the dwelling-place of a hermit
and where was a small chapel by the wayside. And Sir Percival beheld that
the hermit, who was an old man with a long white beard, rang the bell of
[Sidenote: Sir Percival meets his fate at the forest chapel] So Sir
Percival thought that here he might find food and drink; and so he rode
forward to where the hermit was ringing the bell. But when Sir Percival
came still more nigh he perceived that behind the chapel and to one side
there was a very noble knight upon horseback; and he perceived that the
knight was clad all in white armor and that his horse (which was white as
milk and of very noble strength and proportions) was furnished altogether
with furniture of white.
This knight, when he perceived Sir Percival, immediately rode up to meet
him and saluted Sir Percival very courteously. And the knight said: "Sir,
will you not joust a fall with me ere you break your fast? For this is a
very fair and level field of green grass and well fitted for such a
friendly trial at arms if you have the time for it."
Unto this Sir Percival said: "Messire, I will gladly try a fall with you,
though I must tell you that I am a very young green knight, having been
knighted only yesterday by King Arthur himself. But though I am unskilled
in arms, yet it will pleasure me a great deal to accept so gentle and
courteous a challenge as that which you give me."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival is overthrown by the white knight] So with that
each knight turned his horse and each took such stand as appeared to him to
be best. And when they were in all ways prepared, they drave their horses
together with great speed, the one against the other, meeting one another,
shield against spear, in the very midst of the course. In that encounter
(which was the first that he ever ran) Sir Percival bare himself very well
and with great knightliness of endeavor; for he broke his spear upon the
white knight into small pieces. But the spear of the white knight held so
that Sir Percival was lifted out of his saddle and over the crupper of his
horse, and fell upon the ground with great violence and a cloud of dust.
Then the white knight returned from his course and came up to where Sir
Percival was. And he inquired of him very courteously: "Sir, art thou
hurt?" Thereunto Sir Percival replied: "Nay, sir! I am not hurt, only
somewhat shaken by my fall.'"
Then the white knight dismounted from his horse and came to where Sir
Percival was. And he lifted up the umbril of his helmet, and Sir Percival
perceived that that white knight was Sir Launcelot of the Lake.
And Sir Launcelot said: "Percival, I well knew who you were from the first,
but I thought I would see of what mettle you are, and I have found that you
are of very good mettle indeed. But you are to know that it is impossible
for a young knight such as you, who knoweth naught of the use of knightly
weapons, to have to do with a knight well-seasoned in arms as I am, and to
have any hope of success in such an encounter. Wherefore you need to be
taught the craft of using your weapons perfectly."
To this Sir Percival said: "Messire, tell me, how may I hope to acquire
craft at arms such as may serve me in such a stead as this?"
Sir Launcelot said: "I myself will teach thee, imparting to thee such skill
as I have at my command. Less than half a day's journey to the southward of
this is my castle of Joyous Gard. Thither I was upon my way when I met thee
here. Now thou shalt go with me unto Joyous Gard, and there thou shalt
abide until thou art in all ways taught the use of arms so that thou mayst
uphold that knighthood which I believe God hath endowed thee withal."
So after that Sir Launcelot and Sir Percival went to the dwelling-place of
the hermit, and the hermit fed them with the best of that simple fare which
he had at his command.
[Sidenote: How Sir Percival dwelt at Joyous Gard] After that, they mounted
horse again and rode away to Joyous Gard, and there Sir Percival abided for
a year, training himself in all wise so as to prepare himself to uphold
that knighthood which in him became so famous. For, during that year Sir
Launcelot was his teacher in the art of arms. Likewise he instructed him in
all the civilities and the customs of chivalry, so it befell that ere Sir
Percival came forth from Joyous Gard again he was well acquainted with all
the ways in which he should comport himself at any time, whether in field
or in court.
So when Sir Percival came forth again from Joyous Gard, there was no
knight, unless it was Sir Launcelot himself, who could surpass him in skill
at arms; nay, not even his own brother, Sir Lamorack; nor was there
anybody, even if one were Sir Gawaine or Sir Geraint, who surpassed him in
civility of courtliness or nobility of demeanor.
And now I shall tell you of the great adventure that befell Sir Percival
after Sir Launcelot had thus taught him at Joyous Gard.
[Illustration: Sir Percival overcometh ye Enchantress Vivien]
_How Sir Percival met two strange people in the forest, and how he succored
a knight who was in very great sorrow and dole._
Now after Sir Percival had left Joyous Gard he rode for several days
seeking adventure but meeting none.
Then one day he came to a very dark and wonderful forest which appeared to
be so silent and lonely and yet so full of beauty that Sir Percival
bethought him that this must surely be some forest of magic. So he entered
into that forest with intent to discover if he might find any worthy
[Sidenote: Sir Percival enters the Forest of Arroy] (And that forest was a
forest of magic; for you are to know that it was the Forest of Arroy,
sometimes called the Forest of Adventure, which was several times spoken of
in the book of King Arthur. For no one ever entered into that forest but
some singular adventure befell him.)
So Sir Percival rode through this wonderful woodland for a long time very
greatly wondering, for everywhere about him was perfect silence, with not
so much as a single note of a bird of the woodlands to lighten that
stillness. Now, as Sir Percival rode through that silence, he presently
became aware of the sound of voices talking together, and shortly
thereafter he perceived a knight with a lady riding amid the thin trees
that grew there. And the knight rode upon a great white horse, and the lady
rode upon a red roan palfrey.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival meets two strange people] These, when they beheld
Sir Percival, waited for him, and as Sir Percival drew nigh to them he
perceived that they were of a very singular appearance. For both of them
were clad altogether in green, and both of them wore about their necks very
wonderful collars of wrought gold inset with opal stones and emeralds. And
the face of each was like clear wax for whiteness; and the eyes of each
were very bright, like jewels set in ivory. And these two neither laughed
nor frowned, but only smiled continually. And that knight whom Sir Percival
beheld was Sir Pellias, and the lady was the Lady Nymue of the Lake.
Now when Sir Percival beheld these two, he wist that they were fay,
wherefore he dismounted very quickly, and kneeled down upon the ground and
set his palms together. Then the Lady of the Lake smiled very kindly upon
Sir Percival, and she said: "Sir Percival, arise, and tell me what you do
in these parts?"
Then Sir Percival arose and he stood before that knight and lady, and he
said: "Lady, I wist not how you know who I am, but I believe you are fay
and know many things. Touching my purpose in coming here, it is that I am
in search of adventure. So if you know of any that I may undertake for your
sake, I pray you to tell me of it."
The lady said: "If so be thy desire is of that sort, I may, perchance be
able to bring thee unto an adventure that is worthy for any knight to
undertake. Go a little distance from this upon the way thou art following
and by and by thou wilt behold a bird whose feathers shall shine like to
gold for brightness. Follow that bird and it will bring thee to a place
where thou shalt find a knight in sore need of thy aid."
And Percival said: "I will do as thou dost advise."
[Sidenote: The Lady of the Lake giveth Sir Percival a charm] Then the lady
said: "Wait a little, I have something for thee." Therewith she took from
her neck a small golden amulet pendant from a silken cord very fine and
thin. And she said: "Wear this for it will protect thee from all evil
enchantments." Therewith saying, she hung the amulet about the neck of Sir
Percival, and Sir Percival gave her thanks beyond measure for it.
Then the knight and the lady saluted him and he saluted them, and they each
went their separate ways.
[Sidenote: How Percival followed the golden bird] So Sir Percival
travelled that path for some distance as the lady had advised him to do,
and by and by he beheld the bird of which she had spoken. And he saw that
the plumage of the bird glistered as though it was of gold so that he
marvelled at it. And as he drew nigh the bird flew a little distance down
the path and then lit upon the ground and he followed it. And when he had
come nigh to it again it flew a distance farther and still he followed it.
So it flew and he followed for a very great way until by and by the forest
grew thin and Sir Percival beheld that there was an open country lying
beyond the skirts thereof. And when the bird had brought him thus far it
suddenly flew back into the forest again whence it had come, chirping very
keenly and shrilly as it flew.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival beholds a wonderful castle] So Percival came out
of the forest into the open country, the like of which he had never before
seen, for it was a very desolate barren waste of land. And in the midst of
this desolate plain there stood a castle of a very wonderful appearance;
for in some parts it was the color of ultramarine and in other parts it was
of crimson; and the ultramarine and the crimson were embellished with very
extraordinary devices painted in gold. So because of all those
extraordinary colors, that castle shone like a bright rainbow against the
sky, wherefore Sir Percival sat his horse for some while and marvelled very
Then, by and by Sir Percival perceived that the road that led to the castle
crossed a bridge of stone, and when he looked at the bridge he saw that
midway upon it was a pillar of stone and that a knight clad all in full
armor stood chained with iron chains to that stone pillar, and at that
sight Sir Percival was very greatly astonished. So he rode very rapidly
along that way and so to the bridge and upon the bridge to where the knight
was. And when Sir Percival came thus upon the bridge he perceived that the
knight who was bound with chains was very noble and haughty of appearance,
but that he seemed to be in great pain and suffering because of his being
thus bound to that pillar. For the captive knight made continual moan so
that it moved the heart of Sir Percival to hear him.
So Sir Percival said: "Sir Knight, this is a sorrowful condition thou art
in." And the knight said: "Yea, and I am sorrowful; for I have stood here
now for three days and I am in great torment of mind and body."
Sir Percival said, "Maybe I can aid thee," and thereupon he got down from
off his horse's back and approached the knight. And he drew his sword so
that it flashed in the sun very brightly.
Upon this the knight said: "Messire, what would you be at?" And Sir
Percival said: "I would cut the chains that bind thee."
To this the knight said: "How could you do that? For who could cut through
chains of iron such as these?"
But Sir Percival said: "I will try what I may do."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival sets free the captive knight] Thereupon he lifted
up his sword and smote so terribly powerful a blow that the like of it had
hardly ever been seen before. For that blow cut through the iron chains and
smote the hauberk of the knight so smart a buffet that he fell down to the
ground altogether deprived of breath.
But when Sir Percival saw the knight fall down in that wise, he cried out:
"Woe is me! Have I slain this good, gentle knight when I would but do him
service?" Thereupon he lifted the knight up upon his knee and eased the
armor about his throat. But the knight was not dead, and by and by the
breath came back to him again, and he said: "By my faith, that was the most
wonderful stroke that ever I beheld any man strike in all of my life."
Thereafter, when the knight had sufficiently recovered, Sir Percival helped
him to stand upon his feet; and when he stood thus his strength presently
came back to him again in great measure.
And the knight was athirst and craved very vehemently to drink. So Sir
Percival helped him to descend a narrow path that led to a stream of water
that flowed beneath the bridge; and there the knight stooped and slaked his
thirst. And when he had drunk his fill, his strength came altogether back
to him again, and he said: "Messire, I have to give thee all thanks that it
is possible for me to do, for hadst thou not come unto mine aid, I would
else have perished very miserably and at no very distant time from this."
Then Sir Percival said: "I beseech you, Messire, to tell me how you came
into that sad plight in which I found you."
[Sidenote: The knight telleth his story] To this the knight said: "I will
tell you; it was thus: Two days ago I came thitherward and past yonder
castle, and with me were two excellent esquires--for I am a knight of royal
blood. Now as we went past that castle there came forth a lady clad all in
red and so exceedingly beautiful that she entirely enchanted my heart. And
with this lady there came a number of esquires and pages, all of them very
beautiful of face, and all clad, as she was, in red. Now when this lady had
come nigh to me she spoke me very fair and tempted me with kind words so
that I thought I had never fallen upon anyone so courteous as she. But when
she had come real close to me, she smote me of a sudden across the
shoulders with an ebony staff that she carried in her hand, and at the same
time she cried out certain words that I remember not. For immediately a
great darkness like to a deep swoon fell upon me and I knew nothing. And
when I awakened from that swoon lo! I found myself here, chained fast to
this stone pillar. And hadst thou not come hither I would else certainly
have died in my torment. And as to what hath become of my esquires, I know
not; but as for that lady, methinks she can be none other than a certain
enchantress, hight Vivien, who hath wrought such powerful spells upon
Merlin as to have removed him from the eyes of all mankind."
Unto all this Sir Percival listened in great wonder, and when the knight
had ended his tale he said: "What is thy name?" And the knight said: "My
name is Percydes and I am the son of King Pecheur--so called because he is
the king of all the fisher-folk who dwell upon the West coast. And now I
prithee tell me also thy name and condition, for I find I love thee a very
And Sir Percival said: "My name is Percival, but I may not at this present
tell thee my condition and of whom I am born; for that I must keep secret
until I have won me good credit as a knight. But now I have somewhat to do,
and that is to deal with this lady Vivien as she shall deserve."
Upon that Sir Percydes cried out: "Go not near to that sorceress, else she
will do some great harm to thee with her potent spells as she did to me."
But Sir Percival said: "I have no fear of her."
So Sir Percival arose and crossed the bridge and went toward that wonderful
enchanted castle; and Sir Percydes would have gone with him, but Sir
Percival said: "Stay where thou art." And so Sir Percydes stayed and Sir
Percival went forward alone.
[Sidenote: The Lady Vivien cometh forth to Sir Percival] Now as he drew
nigh to the castle the gate thereof was opened, and there came forth thence
an extraordinarily beautiful lady surrounded by a court of esquires and
pages all very beautiful of countenance. And this lady and all of her court
were clad in red so that they shone like to several flames of fire. And the
lady's hair was as red as gold, and she wore gold ornaments about her neck
so that she glistered exceedingly and was very wonderful to behold. And her
eyebrows were very black and fine and were joined in the middle like two
fine lines drawn together with a pencil, and her eyes were narrow and
black, shining like those of a snake.
Then when Sir Percival beheld this lady how singularly beautiful she was he
was altogether enchanted so that he could not forbear to approach her. And,
lo! she stood still and smiled upon him so that his heart stirred within
his bosom like as though it pulled at the strings that held it. Then she
said to Sir Percival, speaking in a very sweet and gentle voice: "Sir
Knight, thou art welcome to this place. It would pleasure us very greatly
if thou wouldst consider this castle as though it were thine own and would
abide within it with me for a while." Therewith speaking she smiled again
upon Sir Percival more cunningly than before and reached out her hand
Then Sir Percival came toward her with intent to take her hand, she smiling
upon him all the while so that he could not do otherwise than as she
Now in the other hand this lady held an ebony staff of about an ell in
length, and when Sir Percival had come close enough to her, she lifted this
staff of a sudden and smote him with it very violently across the
shoulders, crying out at the same time, in a voice terribly piercing and
shrill: "Be thou a stone!"
Then that charm that the Lady of the Lake had hung around the neck of Sir
Percival stood him in good stead, for, excepting for it, he would that
instant have been transformed into a stone. But the charm of the sorceress
did not work upon him, being prevented by the greater charm of that golden
[Sidenote: Sir Percival draweth sword upon the Lady Vivien] But Sir
Percival knew very well what the sorceress Vivien had intended to do to
him, and he was filled with a great rage of indignation against her because
she had meant to transform him into a stone. Therefore he cried out with a
loud voice and seized the enchantress by her long golden hair, and drew her
so violently forward that she fell down upon her knees. Then he drew his
shining sword with intent to sever her long neck, so slender and white like
But the lady shrieked with great vehemence of terror and besought him
mercy. And at that Sir Percival's heart grew soft for pity, for he
bethought him that she was a woman and he beheld how smooth and beautiful
was her neck, and how her skin was like white satin for smoothness. So when
he heard her voice--the voice of a woman beseeching mercy--his heart grew
soft, and he could not find strength within him to strike that neck apart
with his sword.
So he bade her to arise--though he still held her by the hair (all warm, it
was, and as soft as silk and very fragrant) and the lady stood up,
trembling before him.
Then Sir Percival said to her: "If thou wouldst have thy life I command
thee to transform back to their own shape all those people whom thou hast
bewitched as thou wouldst have bewitched me."
Then the lady said: "It shall be done." Whereupon she smote her hands very
violently together crying out: "All ye who have lost your proper shapes,
[Sidenote: The Lady Vivien undoes her enchantment] Then, lo! upon the
instant, a great multitude of round stones that lay scattered about became
quick, like to eggs; and they moved and stirred as the life entered into
them. And they melted away and, behold! there arose up a great many knights
and esquires and several ladies to the number of four score and eight in
all. And certain other stones became quickened in like manner, and as
Percival looked, lo! there rose up the horses of those people, all
caparisoned as though for travel.
Now when those people who had been thus bewitched beheld the Lady Vivien,
how Sir Percival held her by the hair of her head, they made great outcry
against her for vengeance, saying: "Slay her! Slay her!" And therewith
several made at her as though to do as they said and to slay her. But
Percival waved his sword before her and said: "Not so! Not so! For this
lady is my prisoner and we shall not harm her unless ye come at her through
Thereat they fell silent in a little while, and when he had thus stilled
them, he turned to the Lady Vivien and said: "This is my command that I lay
upon thee: that thou shalt go into the court of King Arthur and shalt
confess thyself to him and that thou shalt fulfil whatever penance he may
lay upon thee to perform because of thy transgressions. Now wilt thou do
this for to save thy life?"
And the Lady Vivien made reply: "All shall be done according to thy
Therewith Sir Percival released his hold upon her and she was free.
Then, finding herself to be thus free, she stepped back a pace or two and
looked into Sir Percival his face, and she laughed. And she said: "Thou
fool, didst thou think that I would do so mad a thing as that which thou
hast made me promise? For what mercy could I expect at the hands of King
Arthur seeing that it was I who destroyed the Enchanter Merlin, who was the
right adviser of King Arthur! Go to King Arthur thyself and deliver to him
thine own messages."
[Sidenote: The Lady Vivien escapes] So saying, in an instant, she vanished
from the sight of all those who stood there. And with her vanished that
castle of crimson and ultramarine and gold--and nothing was left but the
bare rocks and the barren plain.
Then when those who were there recovered from their astonishment, upon
beholding that great castle so suddenly disappear, they turned to Sir
Percival and gave him worship and thanks without measure, saying to him:
"What shall we do in return for saving us from the enchantment of this
And Percival said: "Ye shall do this: ye shall go to the court of King
Arthur and tell him how that young knight, Percival, whom he made a knight
a year ago, hath liberated you from the enchantment of this sorceress. And
you shall seek out Sir Kay and shall say to him that, by and by, I shall
return and repay him in full measure, twenty times over, that blow which he
gave to the damosel Yelande, the Dumb Maiden because of her kindness to
So said Sir Percival, and they said: "It shall be done as thou dost
Then Sir Percydes said: "Wilt thou not come to my castle and rest thyself
there for the night? For thou must be aweary with all thy toil." And Sir
Percival said, "I will go with thee." So Sir Percydes and Sir Percival rode
away together to the castle of Sir Percydes.
[Sidenote: Sir Percydes knoweth the ring that Percival wears] Now while
Sir Percival and Sir Percydes sat at supper in the castle of Sir Percydes,
Sir Percival chanced to lay his hand in love upon the sleeve of Sir
Percydes's arm, and that moment Sir Percydes saw the ring upon Sir
Percival's finger which the young damosel of the pavilion had given unto
him in exchange for his ring. When Sir Percydes saw that ring he cried out
in great astonishment, "Where didst thou get that ring?"
Sir Percival said, "I will tell thee"; and therewith he told Sir Percydes
all that had befallen him when he first came down into the world from the
wilderness where he had aforetime dwelt, and how he had entered the yellow
pavilion and had discovered the damosel who was now his chosen lady. When
Sir Percydes heard that story he laughed in great measure, and then he
said: "But how wilt thou find that young damosel again when thou hast a
mind for to go to her once more?" To the which Sir Percival made reply: "I
know not how I shall find her, nevertheless, I shall assuredly do so. For
though the world is much wider and greater than I had thought it to be when
I first came down into it, yet I know that I shall find that lady when the
fit time cometh for me to seek her."
Then Sir Percydes said: "Dear friend, when thou desireth to find that
damosel to whom belongeth the ring, come thou to me and I will tell thee
where thou mayst find her; yet I know not why thou dost not go and find her
Unto this Sir Percival made reply: "I do not seek her immediately because I
am yet so young and so unknown to the world that I could not be of any
credit to her should I find her; so first I will seek to obtain credit as a
knight, and then I will seek her."
Sir Percydes said: "Well, Percival, I think thou hast great promise of a
very wonderful knighthood. Nor do I think thou wilt have difficulty in
finding plenty of adventures to undertake. For even to-day I know of an
adventure, which if thou couldst perform it successfully, would bring thee
such worship that there are very few knights in all the world who will have
more worship than thou."
Then Sir Percival said: "I prithee, dear friend, tell me what is that
Then Sir Percydes told Sir Percival what that adventure was as followeth:
[Sidenote: Sir Percydes telleth Sir Percival of Beaurepaire] "Thou art to
know," quoth he, "that somewhat more than a day's journey to the north of
this there is a fair plain, very fertile and beautiful to the sight. In the
midst of that plain is a small lake of water, and in that lake is an
island, and upon the island is a tall castle of very noble size and
proportions. That castle is called Beaurepaire, and the lady of that castle
is thought to be one of the most beautiful damosels in the world. And the
name of the lady is Lady Blanchefleur.
"Now there is a very strong and powerful knight hight Sir Clamadius,
otherwise known as the King of the Isles; and he is one of the most famous
knights in the world. Sir Clamadius hath for a long while loved the Lady
Blanchefleur with such a passion of love that I do not think that the like
of that passion is to be found anywhere else in the world. But the Lady
Blanchefleur hath no love for Sir Clamadius, but ever turneth away from him
with a heart altogether cold of liking.
"But Sir Clamadius is a wonderfully proud and haughty King, wherefore he
can ill brook being scorned by any lady. Wherefore he hath now come against
the castle of Beaurepaire with an array of knights of his court, and at
present layeth siege to that castle aforesaid.
"Now there is not at that castle any knight of sufficient worship to serve
as champion thereof, wherefore all they of Beaurepaire stay within the
castle walls and Sir Clamadius holds the meadows outside of the castle so
that no one enters in or goeth out thereof.
"If thou couldst liberate the Lady Blanchefleur from the duress which Sir
Clamadius places upon her, I believe thou wouldst have as great credit in
courts of chivalry as it is possible to have. For, since Sir Tristram is
gone, Sir Clamadius is believed by many to be the best knight in the world,
except Sir Launcelot of the Lake; unless it be that Sir Lamorack of Gales
is a better knight than he."
Then Sir Percival said: "What thou tellest me gives me great pleasure, for
it would be a very good adventure for any young knight to undertake. For if
he should lose there would be no shame in losing, and if he should win
there would be great glory in winning. So to-morrow I will enter upon that
adventure, with intent to discover what fortune I may have therein."
So I have told you how Sir Percival performed his first adventures in the
world of chivalry after he had perfected himself in the mysteries of
knighthood under the teaching of Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and I have told
you how he achieved that adventure with great credit to himself and with
great glory to the order of knighthood to which he now truly belonged as a
most worthy member.
That night he abided in the castle of Sir Percydes with great comfort and
rest to his body, and when the next morning had come he arose, much
refreshed and strengthened in spirit. And he descended to the hall where
was set a fair and generous breakfast for his further refreshment, and
thereat he and Sir Percydes sat themselves down and ate with hearty
appetite, discoursing with great amity of spirit as aforetold.
After he had broken his fast he bade farewell to Sir Percydes and mounted
his horse and rode away through the bright sunlight toward Beaurepaire and
those further adventures that awaited him thereat.
And, as it was with Sir Percival in that first adventure, so may you meet
with a like success when you ride forth upon your first undertakings after
you have entered into the glory of your knighthood, with your life lying
before you and a whole world whereinto ye may freely enter to do your
devoirs to the glory of God and your own honor.
So now it shall be told how it fared with Sir Percival in that adventure of
the Castle of Beaurepaire.
[Illustration: The Demoiselle Blanchefleur]
_How Sir Percival undertook the adventure of the castle of Beaurepaire and
how he fared therein after several excellent adventures_.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival breaks his fast at a forest cottage] Now the way
that Sir Percival travelled led him by the outskirts of the forest, so that
somewhiles he would be in the woodland and somewhiles he would be in the
open country. And about noontide he came to a certain cottage of a neatherd
that stood all alone in a very pleasant dale. That place a little brook
came bickering out from the forest and ran down into the dale and spread
out into a small lake, besides which daffadowndillys bloomed in such
abundance that it appeared as though all that meadow land was scattered
over with an incredible number of yellow stars that had fallen down from
out of the sky. And, because of the pleasantness of this place, Sir
Percival here dismounted from his horse and sat him down upon a little
couch of moss under the shadow of an oak tree that grew nigh to the
cottage, there to rest himself for a while with great pleasure. And as he
sat there there came a barelegged lass from the cottage and brought him
fresh milk to drink; and there came a good, comely housewife and brought
him bread and cheese made of cream; and Sir Percival ate and drank with
Now whilst Sir Percival sat there resting and refreshing himself in that
wise, there appeared of a sudden coming thitherward, a tall and noble
knight riding upon a piebald war-horse of Norway strain. So when Sir
Percival beheld that knight coming in that wise he quickly put on his
helmet and mounted his horse and made him ready for defence in case the
knight had a mind to assail him.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival bespeaketh the strange knight] Meantime that
knight came riding up with great haughtiness of bearing to where Sir
Percival was, and when he had come nigh enough he bespake Sir Percival,
saying: "Sir Knight, I pray you to tell me your name and whither you go,
and upon what quest?"
Unto this Sir Percival made reply: "Messire, I do not choose to tell you my
name, for I am a young knight, very new to adventure, and I know not how I
shall succeed in that quest which I have undertaken. So I will wait to try
the success of that adventure before I tell my name. But though I may not
tell my name I will tell you whither I go and upon what quest. I go for to
find a certain castle called Beaurepaire, and I intend to endeavor to
liberate the lady of that castle from the duress of a certain knight hight
Sir Clamadius, who, I understand, holds her by siege within the walls
Now, when Sir Percival had ceased speaking, the strange knight said: "Sir,
this is a very singular thing: for that adventure of which you speak is the
very adventure upon which I myself am bound. Now, as you say, you are a
very young knight unused to arms, and as I am in the same degree a knight
well seasoned in deeds of arms, it is more fitting that I should undertake
this quest than you. For you may know how very well I am used to the
service of arms when I tell you that I have had to do in four and twenty
battles of various sorts; some of them friendly and some of them otherwise;
and that I have had to do in more than four times that many affairs-at-arms
with single knights, nearly all of them of great prowess. So now it would
seem fitting that you should withdraw you from this affair and let me first
essay it. Then, if I fail in my undertaking, you shall assume that
"Messire," quoth Sir Percival, "I see that you are a knight of much greater
experience than I; but, ne'ertheless, I cannot find it in my heart to
forego this adventure. So what I have to propose is this: that you and I do
combat here in this place, and that he who proveth himself to be the better
of us twain shall carry out this undertaking that we are both set upon."
Unto this, that strange knight lent a very willing assent, saying: "Very
well, Messire, it shall be as you ask."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival doeth battle with the strange knight] So with that
each knight turned his horse and rode a little piece away; and each took
such stand as pleased him; and each dressed his spear and shield and made
him in all wise ready for the encounter. And when they had so prepared
themselves, each knight shouted to his horse, and drave spur into its flank
and rushed, the one against the other, with such terrible noise and
violence that the sound thereof was echoed back from the woods like to a
storm of thunder.
So they met in the midst of the course with such a vehement impact that it
was terrible to behold. And in that encounter the spear of each knight was
burst all into fragments; and the horse of each fell back upon his haunches
and would have been overthrown had not each knight voided his saddle with a
very wonderful skill and agility.
Then each knight drew sword and came the one against the other, as
furiously as two rams at battle. So they fought for nigh the space of an
hour, foining and striking, and tracing hither and tracing thither most
furiously; and the noise of the blows they struck might have been heard
several furlongs away.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival overcometh the strange knight] During that battle
Sir Percival received several sore wounds so that by and by a great passion
of rage seized upon him. So he rushed the battle with might and main, and
therewith struck so many furious blows that by and by that other knight
held his shield very low for weariness. This Sir Percival perceived, and
therewith he smote the other so furious a blow upon the head that the
knight sank down upon his knees and could not arise. Then Sir Percival ran
to him and catched him by the neck and flung him down violently upon the
ground, crying out, "Yield or I slay thee!"
Then that knight besought mercy in a very weak voice, saying: "Sir Knight,
I beseech thee, spare my life!"
Sir Percival said: "Well, I will spare thee, but tell me, what is thy
name?" To this the other said: "I am Sir Lionel, and I am a knight of King
Arthur's court and of the Round Table."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival giveth aid to Sir Lionel] Now when Sir Percival
heard this he cried out aloud, for he was very greatly grieved, and he
said: "Al as, what have I done for to fight against thee in this wise! I am
Sir Percival, whom thine own kinsman, Sir Launcelot of the Lake, hath
trained in arms. But indeed, I did never think to use that art which he
taught me against one so dear to his heart as thou art, Sir Lionel." So
with that Sir Percival assisted Sir Lionel to arise to his feet, and Sir
Lionel was so weak from that woeful battle that he could hardly stand.
Now that stream and lake of water above spoken of was near by, so Sir
Percival brought Sir Lionel thither, holding him up as he walked; and there
Sir Lionel refreshed himself. Then, when he was revived a little, he turned
his eyes very languidly upon Sir Percival, and he said: "Percival, thou
hast done to me this day what few knights have ever done before. So all the
glory that ever I have won is now thy glory because of this battle. For
thou hast overcome me in a fair quarrel and I have yielded myself unto
thee, wherefore it is now thy right to command me to thy will."
Then Percival said: "Alas, dear Sir Knight! It is not meet that I should
lay command upon such as thou art. But, if thou wilt do so, I beseech thee
when thou art come to King Arthur's court that thou wilt tell the King that
I, who am his young knight Percival, have borne myself not unbecomingly in
my battle with thee. For this is the first battle, knight against knight,
that I have undertaken in all of my life. And I beseech thee that thou wilt
greet Sir Kay the Seneschal, from me, and that thou wilt say to him that by
and by I shall meet him and repay him that buffet which he gave to the
damsel Yelande, the Dumb Maiden, in the Queen's pavilion."
Sir Lionel said: "It shall be as thou sayst, and I will do thy bidding.
But, touching Sir Kay, I do not believe that he will take very much joy at
thy message to him. For he will find small pleasure in the thought of the
payment of that buffet that thou hast promised to give him."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival goeth forward upon his adventure] Now, as the day
by this time was waxing late, Sir Percival abided that night at that
neatherd's hut nigh to which this battle had been fought and there had his
wounds bathed and dressed; and when the next morning had come he arose
early, and saddled his horse, and rode forward upon his way. And as he rode
he was very well pleased at the thought of that battle he had fought with
Sir Lionel, for he wist that he had obtained great credit to himself in
that encounter, and he was aware, now that he had made trial of his
strength against such a one as Sir Lionel, he must be one of the greatest
knights of the world. So his heart was uplifted with great joy and delight
at that thought; that he was now a well-approved knight-champion, worthy of
his knighthood. Therefore he rode away for all that day, greatly rejoicing
in spirit at the thought of what he had done the day before.
About the first slant of the afternoon Sir Percival came at last out of the
woodlands and into a wide-open plain, very fertile and well tilled, with
fields of wheat and rye abounding on all sides. And he saw that in the
midst of that plain there was a considerable lake, and that in the midst of
that lake there was an island, and that upon the island there stood a fair
noble castle, and he wist that that castle must be the castle of
Beaurepaire. So he rode down into that valley with some speed.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival perceives a red knight] Now after he had so ridden
for a while, he was aware of a knight, very haughty of appearance and
bearing, who rode before him upon the same way that he was going. And that
knight was clad all in red armor, and he rode upon a horse so black that I
believe there was not a single white hair upon him. And all the trappings
and the furniture of that horse were of red, so that he presented a very
noble appearance. So Sir Percival made haste to overtake that knight, and
when he had come nigh he drew rein at a little distance. Thereupon that
knight in red bespake Sir Percival very proudly, saying: "Sir Knight,
whither ride you, and upon what mission?"
"Messire," quoth Percival, "I ride toward yonder castle, which I take to be
the castle of Beaurepaire, and I come hither with intent to succor the Lady
Blanchefleur of that castle from a knight, hight Sir Clamadius, who keeps
her there a prisoner against her will, so that it behooves any good knight
to attempt her rescue."
Upon this the red knight spake very fiercely, saying: "Messire, what
business is that of yours? I would have you know that I am a knight of King
Clamadius', wherefore I am able to say to you that you shall go no further
upon that quest. For I am Sir Engeneron of Grandregarde, and I am Seneschal
unto King Clamadius, and I will not have it that thou shalt go any farther
upon this way unless you ride over me to go upon it."
"Messire," quoth Sir Percival, "I have no quarrel with you, but if you have
a mind to force a quarrel upon me, I will not seek to withdraw myself from
an encounter with you. So make yourself ready, and I will make myself
ready, and then we shall soon see whether or not I am to pass upon this
[Sidenote: Sir Percival doeth battle with Sir Engeneron] So therewith each
knight turned his horse away to such a place as seemed to him to be
fitting; and when they were in all wise prepared they rushed together with
an amazing velocity and a noise like to thunder. So they met in the midst
of the course. And in that encounter the spear of Sir Engeneron broke into
many pieces, but the spear of Sir Percival held, so that he flung Sir
Engeneron entirely out of his saddle and over the crupper of his horse and
down upon the ground so violently that Sir Engeneron lay there in a swoon.
[Sidenote: Sir Engeneron yields himself to Sir Percival] Then Sir Percival
dismounted from his horse with all speed, and he rushed the helmet of Sir
Engeneron off of his head with intent to slay him. But with that Sir
Engeneron awoke to his danger, and therewith gat upon his knees and clasped
Sir Percival about the thighs, crying out: "Sir, I beseech you upon your
knighthood to spare my life."
"Well," said Sir Percival, "since you beseech that upon my knighthood I
must needs do as you ask. But I will only do so upon two conditions. The
first of these conditions is that you go to the court of King Arthur, and
that you surrender yourself as captive to a damsel of that court who is
known as the Lady Yelande the Dumb Maiden. And you are to tell that maiden
that the young knight who slew Sir Boindegardus greets her and that he
tells her that in a little while he will return to repay to Sir Kay that
buffet he gave her. This is my first condition." And Sir Engeneron said: "I
will perform that condition."
"And my second condition," said Sir Percival, "is this: that you give me
your armor for me to use upon this adventure which I have undertaken, and
that you take my armor and deposit it with the hermit of a little chapel
you shall after a while come to if you return upon the road which brought
me hither. After a while I will return and reclaim my armor and will return
your armor. This is my second condition."
And Sir Engeneron said: "That condition also I shall fulfil according to
[Sidenote: Sir Percival and Sir Engeneron exchange armor] Then Sir
Percival said: "Arise." And Sir Engeneron did so. And after that Sir
Engeneron put off his armor, and Sir Percival put off his armor. And Sir
Percival put on the armor of Sir Engeneron, and Sir Engeneron packed the
armor of Sir Percival upon his horse and prepared to depart in obedience to
those conditions of Sir Percival. So they parted company, Sir Percival
riding upon his way to Beaurepaire, and Sir Engeneron betaking his way to
find the chapel of that hermit of whom Sir Percival had spoken.
So it was that after two adventures, Sir Percival entered upon that
undertaking which he had come to perform in behalf of the Lady
And now, if it please you to read what follows, you shall hear how it
befell with Sir Percival at the castle of Beaurepaire.
After that adventure with Sir Engeneron, Sir Percival rode onward upon his
way, and by and by he came to the lake whereon stood the castle and the
town of Beaurepaire. And Sir Percival beheld that a long narrow bridge
crossed over that part of the lake from the mainland to the island and the
town. So Sir Percival rode very boldly forth upon that bridge and across
it, and no one stayed him, for all of the knights of Sir Clamadius who
beheld him said: "Yonder rides Sir Engeneron." Thus Sir Percival crossed
the bridge and rode very boldly forward until he came to the gate of the
castle, and those who beheld him said: "Sir Engeneron haply beareth a
message to the castle." For no one wist that that knight was not Sir
Engeneron, but all thought that it was he because of the armor which he
[Sidenote: Sir Percival cometh to Beaurepaire] So Sir Percival came close
to the castle, and when he was come there he called very loudly to those
within, and by and by there appeared the face of a woman at an upper window
and the face was very pale and woe-begone.
Then Sir Percival said to the woman at the window: "Bid them open the gate
and let me in; for I come to bring you succor at this place."
To this the woman said: "I shall not bid them open the gate, for I know
from your armor who you are, and that you are Sir Engeneron the Seneschal.
And I know that you are one of our bitterest enemies; for you have already
slain several of the knights of this castle, and now you seek by guile to
enter into the castle itself."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival entereth Beaurepaire] Then Sir Percival said: "I
am not Sir Engeneron, but one who hath overthrown Sir Engeneron in battle.
I have put on his armor with intent that I might come hither to help defend
this place against Sir Clamadius." So said Sir Percival, and therewith he
put up the umbril of his helmet, saying: "Look, see; I am not Sir
Engeneron." Then the woman at the window saw his face and that it was not
the face of Sir Engeneron. And she saw that the face of Sir Percival was
mild and gentle, wherefore she ran and told the people of the castle that a
knight who was a friend stood without. Therewith they of the castle let
fall the drawbridge and opened the gates, and Sir Percival entered into the
Then there came several of the chief people of the castle, and they also
were all pale and woe-begone from long fasting, as was the woman whom Sir
Percival had first seen; for all were greatly wasted because of the toil
and anxiety of that siege. These asked Sir Percival who he was and whence
he came and how he came thither; and Sir Percival told them all that it was
necessary for them to know. For he told them how he was a young knight
trained under the care of Sir Launcelot; and he told them that he had come
thither with the hope of serving the Lady Blanchefleur; and he told them
what adventures had befallen him in the coming and how he had already
overthrown Sir Lionel and Sir Engeneron to get there. Wherefore, from these
things, they of the castle perceived that Sir Percival was a very strong,
worthy knight, and they gave great joy that he should have come thither to
So he who was chief of those castle people summoned several attendants, and
these came and some took the horse of Sir Percival and led it to the
stables, and others relieved Sir Percival of his armor; and others took him
to a bath of tepid water, where he bathed himself, and was dried on soft
linen towels; and others brought soft garments of gray cloth and clad Sir
Percival in them and afterward brought him down into a fair large chamber
where there was a table spread as though ready for meat.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival beholds the Lady Blanchefleur] Now in a little
after Sir Percival was come to that supper-hall the door thereof was opened
and there entered several people. With these came a damsel of such
extraordinary beauty and gracefulness of figure that Sir Percival stood
amazed. For her face was fair beyond words; red upon white, like
rose-leaves upon cream; and her eyes were bright and glancing like those of
a falcon, and her nose was thin and straight, and her lips were very red,
like to coral for redness, and her hair was dark and abundant and like to
silk for softness. She was clad all in a dress of black, shot with stars of
gold, and the dress was lined with ermine and was trimmed with sable at the
collar and the cuffs and the hem thereof.
So Sir Percival stood and gazed at that lady with a pleasure beyond words
to express, and he wist that this must be the Lady Blanchefleur, for whose
sake he had come thither.
And the Lady Blanchefleur looked upon Sir Percival with great kindness, for
he appeared to her like to a hero for strength and beauty; wherefore she
smiled upon Sir Percival very graciously and came forward and gave him her
hand. And Sir Percival took her hand and set it to his lips; and lo! her
hand was as soft as silk and very warm, rosy and fragrant, and the fingers
thereof glistered with bright golden rings and with gems of divers colors.
Then that beautiful Lady Blanchefleur said: "Messire, this is a very
knightly thing for you to do to come hither to this place. And you come in
good time, for food groweth very scarce with us so that in a little while
we must face starvation. For because of the watch that Sir Clamadius
keepeth upon this place, no one can either enter in or go out. Yea, thou
art the very first one who hath come hither since he has sat down before
[Sidenote: The Lady Blanchefleur telleth her sorrows to Sir Percival] Then
presently she ceased smiling and her face clouded over; then bright tears
began to drop from the Lady Blanchefleur's eyes; and then she said: "I fear
me greatly that Sir Clamadius will at last seize upon this castle, for he
hath kept us here prisoner for a long while. Yet though he seize the
castle, he shall never seize that which the castle contains. For I keep by
me a little casket of silver, and therein is a dagger, very sharp and fine.
Therefore the day that Sir Clamadius enters into this castle, I shall
thrust that dagger into my heart. For, though Sir Clamadius may seize upon
my castle, he shall never possess my soul."
Then Sir Percival was very sorry for the tears he saw shining upon the Lady
Blanchefleur's face, wherefore he said: "Lady, I have great hopes that this
affair may never reach to that woful extremity thou speakest of." The Lady
Blanchefleur said: "I hope not also." And therewith she wiped away her
tears and smiled again. Then she said: "See, Sir Percival, the evening has
come and it is time to sit at supper, now I beseech thee for to come to
table with me, for though we have but little to eat here, yet I assure thee
that thou art very welcome to the best that we have."
So therewith Lady Blanchefleur led Sir Percival to the table, and they sat
down to such feast as could be had at that place of starvation. For what
they had was little enough, being only such fish as they could catch from
the lake, and a little bread--but not much--and a very little wine.
[Sidenote: The Lady sings to Sir Percival] Then after they had eaten and
drunk what they had, the Lady Blanchefleur took a golden harp into her hand
and played thereon, and sang in a voice so clear and high and beautiful
that Percival was altogether enchanted and bewitched thereat.
Thus it was that that evening passed with them very pleasantly and
cheerfully, so that it was the middle of the night ere Sir Percival
withdrew to that couch that had been prepared for his rest.
Now word was brought to Sir Clamadius that Sir Engeneron the Seneschal had
been overcome by another knight, wherefore Sir Clamadius wist that that was
the knight in Sir Engeneron's armor who had entered into the castle. So Sir
Clamadius said: "Certes, this must be a champion of no small prowess who
hath undertaken single-handed such a dangerous quest as this, and hath thus
entered into the castle, for they appear to make great rejoicings at his
coming. Now if he remaineth there it may very well be that they will be
encouraged to resist me a great while longer, and so all that I have thus
far accomplished shall have been in vain."
[Sidenote: The old counsellor giveth advice to Sir Clamadius] Now there
was among the counsellors of Sir Clamadius an old knight who was very
cunning and far-sighted. He said to the King: "Sire, I think we may be able
to devise some plan whereby we may withdraw this knight-champion out of the
castle. My plan is this: Let ten of your best knights make parade before
that castle tomorrow, and let them give challenge to those within the
castle to come forth to battle. Then I believe that this knight will come
forth with the other knights from the castle to accept that challenge.
Thereafter let it be that our knights withdraw as though in retreat, and so
lead this knight and the knights of the castle into an ambushment. There
let many fall upon them at once and either slay them or make them
prisoners. So the castle shall be deprived of this new champion that hath
come to it, and therewith may be so disheartened that it will yield to
This advice seemed very good to King Clamadius, wherefore, when the next
morning had come, he chose him ten knights from among the foremost of all
his knights, and he bade them give that challenge in that wise. These did
so, and therewith Sir Percival and nine other knights issued out from the
castle against them.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival doeth great battle] But it did not fare as Sir
Clamadius had expected; for the attack of Sir Percival and his knights was
so fierce and sudden that those ten knights could not withdraw so easily as
they intended. For, ere they were able to withdraw, Sir Percival had struck
down six of these knights with his own hand and the other four were made
Thus Sir Percival and his knights did not come into that ambush that had
been prepared for them.
Then those who were in ambush perceived that their plan had failed
wherefore they broke from cover with intent to do what they could. But Sir
Percival and his knights beheld them coming, and so withdrew, defending
themselves with great valor. So they came into the castle again in safety.
Thus it was that the plans of King Clamadius and his counsellor failed of
effect, whereupon Sir Clamadius was very angry at that wise old knight. So
that, when that counsellor came to him again and said: "Sir, I have another
plan," King Clamadius cried out very fiercely: "Away with thy plans! They
are all of no avail." Then Sir Clamadius said: "When to-morrow comes, I
myself will undertake this affair. For I will go and give challenge to this
knight, and so I shall hope to decide this quarrel man to man. For unless
yonder knight be Sir Launcelot of the Lake or Sir Lamorack of Gales, I do
not think he will be my peer in an encounter of man to man."
[Sidenote: Sir Clamadius arms himself for battle] So when the next morning
had come, Sir Clamadius armed himself at all points and straightway betook
himself to a fair, smooth meadow beneath the walls of the castle. And when
he had come there he cried out: "Sir Red Knight, come forth and speak with
So after a while Sir Percival appeared at the top of the castle wall, and
he said: "Messire, here I am; what is it you would have of me?"
Then Sir Clamadius said: "Messire, are you Sir Launcelot of the Lake?" And
Sir Percival said: "Nay, I am not he." Sir Clamadius said: "Art thou then
Sir Lamorack of Gales?" And Sir Percival said: "Nay, I am not he." Then Sir
Clamadius said: "Who, then, art thou?" Sir Percival said: "I am not any
great knight-champion such as those two of whom you speak, but am a young
knight who have not fought more than twice or thrice in my life."
At that Sir Clamadius was very glad, for he feared that Sir Percival might
be some famous knight well-seasoned in arms. Wherefore when he found that
Sir Percival was only a young and untried knight, he thought it would be an
easy matter to deal with him. So he said: "Messire, I challenge thee to
come forth to battle with me man to man so that thou and I may settle this
quarrel betwixt us, for it is a pity to shed more blood than is necessary
in this quarrel. So if thou wilt come forth and overthrow me, then I will
withdraw my people from this place; but if I overthrow thee, then this
castle shall be yielded up to me with all that it contains."
To this Sir Percival said: "Sir Knight, I am very willing to fight with
thee upon that issue. But first of all I must obtain the consent of the
Lady Blanchefleur to stand her champion."
So Sir Percival went to the Lady Blanchefleur, and he said: "Lady, will you
accept me as your champion to fight the issue of this quarrel man to man
with Sir Clamadius?"
She said: "Percival, thou art very young to have to do with so old and
well-seasoned a knight. Now I greatly fear for your life in such a battle
To this Sir Percival said: "Lady, I know that I am young, but indeed I feel
a very big spirit stir within me, so that if thou wilt trust me, I have
belief that, with the grace of God, I shall win this battle."
Then the Lady Blanchefleur smiled upon Sir Percival and she said:
"Percival, I will gladly entrust my life and safety into thy keeping, for I
too have great dependence in thy knighthood."
So straightway Sir Percival armed himself, and when he was in all wise
prepared he went forth to that battle with a heart very full of great
courage and hope.
There he found Sir Clamadius still parading in that meadow beneath the
walls, awaiting the coming of his opponent.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival and Sir Clamadius do battle] Meanwhile many folk
came and stood upon the walls of the castle to behold that encounter,
whilst each knight took such stand as appeared good to him. Then, when they
were in all wise prepared, each knight drave spurs into his horse and
rushed himself against the other with most terrible and fierce violence.
Therewith they met in the very midst of the course with an uproar like to
thunder that echoed back from the flat walls of the castle.
In that encounter the spear of Sir Percival held, but the spear of Sir
Clamadius was riven into splinters. And so, Sir Percival riding forward
with furious violence, Sir Clamadius was overthrown, horse and man, with
such violence that he lay there upon the ground as though he were dead.
Then all those upon the walls shouted aloud with a great noise of
rejoicing, whilst those of the party of Sir Clamadius gave lamentation in
the same degree.
[Sidenote: Sir Clamadius yields himself] But Sir Percival voided his
saddle in haste, and ran to where Sir Clamadius lay. And Sir Percival
rushed the helmet off from the head of Sir Clamadius, and he catched him by
the hair of the head, and he raised his sword on high with intent to finish
the work he had begun. Therewith Sir Clamadius aroused himself unto his
danger, and he cried in a very piercing voice: "Messire, I beseech thee of
thy knighthood to spare my life!"
"Well," said Sir Percival, "since you ask me upon my knighthood, I cannot
refuse you, for so I was taught by the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, to
refuse no boon asked upon my knighthood that I was able to grant. But I
will only spare your life upon one condition, and that is this: That you
disarm yourself in all wise, and that you go without armor to the court of
King Arthur. There you shall deliver yourself as a servant unto a damsel of
King Arthur's court, hight Yelande, surnamed the Dumb Maiden. Her you are
to tell that the youth who slew Sir Boindegardus hath sent you unto her as
a servant. And you are to say to Sir Kay, the Seneschal of King Arthur,
that the young knight Percival will in a little while come to repay that
buffet he gave to the damoiselle Yelande aforesaid."
So said Sir Percival, and Sir Clamadius said: "It shall be done in all wise
as you command, if so be you will spare my life." Then Sir Percival said:
"Arise"; and Sir Clamadius arose; and Sir Percival said: "Go hence"; and
therewith Sir Clamadius departed as Sir Percival commanded.
So that day Sir Clamadius withdrew from the castle of Beaurepaire with all
his array of knights, and after that he went to the court of King Arthur
and did in all respects as Sir Percival had commanded him to do.
So it was that Sir Percival fulfilled that quest, and set the Lady
Blanchefleur free from duress; and may God grant that you also fulfil all
your quests with as great honor and nobility as therein exhibited.
[Illustration: Sir Kay interrupts ye meditations of Sir Percival]
_How Sir Percival repaid Sir Kay the buffet he one time gave Yelande the
Dumb Maiden, and how, thereafter, he went forth to seek his own lady of
Now, after these adventures aforesaid, Sir Percival remained for a long
while at Beaurepaire, and during that time he was the knight-champion to
the Lady Blanchefleur. And the Lady Blanchefleur loved Sir Percival every
day with a greater and greater passion, but Sir Percival showed no passion
of love for her in return, and thereat Lady Blanchefleur was greatly
[Sidenote: Sir Percival and the Lady Blanchefleur walk together] Now one
day the Lady Blanchefleur and Sir Percival were walking together on a
terrace; and it was then come to be the fall of the year, so that the
leaves of the trees were showering all down about them like flakes of gold.
And that day the Lady Blanchefleur loved Sir Percival so much that her
heart was pierced with that love as though with a great agony. But Sir
Percival wist not of that.
Then the Lady Blanchefleur said: "Messire, I would that thou wouldst stay
here always as our knight-champion."
"Lady," quoth Percival, "that may not be, for in a little while now I must
leave you. For, though I shall be sad to go from such a friendly place as
this is, yet I am an errant knight, and as I am errant I must fulfil many
adventures besides the one I have accomplished here."
"Messire," said the Lady Blanchefleur, "if you will but remain here, this
castle shall be yours and all that it contains."
At this Sir Percival was greatly astonished, wherefore he said: "Lady, how
may that be? Lo! this castle is yours, and no one can take it away from
you, nor can you give it to me for mine own."
Then the Lady Blanchefleur turned away her face and bowed her head, and
said in a voice as though it were stifling her for to speak: "Percival, it
needs not to take the castle from me; take thou me for thine own, and then
the castle and all shall be thine."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival denies the Lady Blanchefleur] At that Sir Percival
stood for a space very still as though without breathing. Then by and by he
said: "Lady, meseems that no knight could have greater honor paid to him
than that which you pay to me. Yet should I accept such a gift as you
offer, then I would be doing such dishonor to my knighthood that would make
it altogether unworthy of that high honor you pay it. For already I have
made my vow to serve a lady, and if I should forswear that vow, I would be
a dishonored and unworthy knight."
Then the Lady Blanchefleur cried out in a great voice of suffering: "Say no
more, for I am ashamed."
Sir Percival said: "Nay, there is no shame to thee, but great honor to me."
But the Lady Blanchefleur would not hear him, but brake away from him in
great haste, and left him standing where he was.
So Sir Percival could stay no longer at that place; but as soon as might
be, he took horse and rode away. Nor did he see Blanchefleur again after
they had thus talked together upon that terrace as aforesaid.
And after Sir Percival had gone, the Lady Blanchefleur abandoned herself to
great sorrow, for she wept a long while and a very great deal; nor would
she, for a long while, take any joy in living or in the world in which she
[Sidenote: Of the further adventures of Sir Percival] So Sir Percival
performed that adventure of setting free the duress of the castle of
Beaurepaire. And after that and ere the winter came, he performed several
other adventures of more or less fame. And during that time, he overthrew
eleven knights in various affairs at arms and in all those adventures he
met with no mishap himself. And besides such encounters at arms, he
performed several very worthy works; for he slew a wild boar that was a
terror to all that dwelt nigh to the forest of Umber; and he also slew a
very savage wolf that infested the moors of the Dart. Wherefore, because of
these several adventures, the name of Sir Percival became very famous in
all courts of chivalry, and many said: "Verily, this young knight must be
the peer of Sir Launcelot of the Lake himself."
Now one day toward eventide (and it was a very cold winter day) Sir
Percival came to the hut of a hermit in the forest of Usk; and he abode all
night at that place.
Now when the morning had come he went out and stood in front of the hut,
and he saw that during the night a soft snow had fallen so that all the
earth was covered with white. And he saw that it likewise had happened that
a hawk had struck a raven in front of the hermit's habitation, and that
some of the raven's feathers and some of its blood lay upon the snow.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival stands in meditation] Now when Sir Percival beheld
the blood and the black feathers upon that white snow, he said to himself:
"Behold! that snow is not whiter than the brow and the neck of my lady; and
that red is not redder than her lips; and that black is not blacker than
her hair." Therewith the thought of that lady took great hold upon him and
he sighed so deeply that he felt his heart lifted within him because of
that sigh. So he stood and gazed upon that white and red and black, and he
forgot all things else in the world than his lady-love.
Now it befell at that time that there came a party riding through those
parts, and that party were Sir Gawaine and Sir Geraint and Sir Kay. And
when they saw Sir Percival where he stood leaning against a tree and
looking down upon the ground in deep meditation, Sir Kay said: "Who is
yonder knight?" (For he wist not that that knight was Sir Percival.) And
Sir Kay said further: "I will go and bespeak that knight and ask him who he
But Sir Gawaine perceived that Sir Percival was altogether sunk in deep
thought, wherefore he said: "Nay, thou wilt do ill to disturb that knight;
for either he hath some weighty matter upon his mind, or else he is
bethinking him of his lady, and in either case it would be a pity to
disturb him until he arouses himself."
[Sidenote: Sir Kay shakes the arm of Sir Percival] But Sir Kay would not
heed what Sir Gawaine said, but forthwith he went to where Sir Percival
stood; and Sir Percival was altogether unaware of his coming, being so
deeply sunk in his thoughts. Then Sir Kay said: "Sir Knight,"--but Sir
Percival did not hear him. And Sir Kay said: "Sir Knight, who art thou?"
But still Sir Percival did not reply. Then Sir Kay said: "Sir Knight, thou
shalt answer me!" And therewith he catched Sir Percival by the arm and
shook him very roughly.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival smites Sir Kay a buffet] Then Sir Percival aroused
himself, and he was filled with indignation that anyone should have laid
rough hands upon his person. And Sir Percival did not recognize Sir Kay
because he was still entangled in that network of thought, but he said very
fiercely: "Ha, sirrah! wouldst thou lay hands upon me!" and therewith he
raised his fist and smote Sir Kay so terrible a buffet beside the head that
Sir Kay instantly fell down as though he were dead and lay without sense of
motion upon the ground. Then Sir Percival perceived that there were two
other knights standing not far off, and therewith his thoughts of other
things came back to him again and he was aware of what he had done in his
anger, and was very sorry and ashamed that he should have been so hasty as
to have struck that blow.
Then Sir Gawaine came to Sir Percival and spake sternly to him saying. "Sir
Knight, why didst thou strike my companion so unknightly a blow as that?"
[Sidenote: Sir Gawaine chides Sir Percival] To which Sir Percival said:
"Messire, it grieves me sorely that I should have been so hasty, but I was
bethinking me of my lady, and this knight disturbed my thoughts; wherefore
I smote him in haste."
To this Sir Gawaine made reply: "Sir, I perceive that thou hadst great
excuse for thy blow. Ne'theless, I am displeased that thou shouldst have
struck that knight. Now I make demand of thee what is thy name and
And Sir Percival said: "My name is Percival, and I am a knight of King
[Sidenote: Sir Gawaine and Sir Geraint rejoice over Sir Percival] At that,
when Sir Gawaine and Sir Geraint heard what Sir Percival said, they cried
out in great amazement; and Sir Gawaine said: "Ha, Sir Percival! this is
indeed well met, for my name is Gawaine and I am a nephew unto King Arthur
and am of his court; and this knight is Sir Geraint, and he also is of King
Arthur's court and of his Round Table. And we have been in search of thee
for this long time for to bring thee unto King Arthur at Camelot. For thy
renown is now spread all over this realm, so that they talk of thee in
every court of chivalry."
And Sir Percival said: "That is good news to me, for I wist not that I had
so soon won so much credit. But, touching the matter of returning unto King
Arthur's court with you; unto that I crave leave to give my excuses. For,
since you tell me that I now have so much credit of knighthood, it behooves
me to go immediately unto my lady and to offer my services unto her. For
when I parted from her I promised her that I would come to her as soon as I
had won me sufficient credit of knighthood. As for this knight whom I have
struck, I cannot be sorry for that buffet, even if it was given with my
fist and not with my sword as I should have given it. For I have promised
Sir Kay by several mouths that I would sometime repay him with just such a
buffet as that which he struck the damosel Yelande. So now I have fulfilled
my promise and have given him that buffet."
Then Sir Gawaine and Sir Geraint laughed, and Sir Gawaine said: "Well, Sir
Percival, thou hast indeed fulfilled thy promise in very good measure. For
I make my vow that no one could have been better served with his dessert
than was Sir Kay."
Now by this time Sir Kay had recovered from that blow, so that he rose up
very ruefully, looking about as though he wist not yet just where he was.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival will not return to court] Then Sir Gawaine said to
Sir Percival: "As to thy coming unto the court of the King, thou dost right
to fulfil thy promise unto thy lady before undertaking any other
obligation. For, even though the King himself bid thee come, yet is thy
obligation to thy lady superior to the command of the King. So now I bid
thee go in quest of thy lady in God's name; only see to it that thou comest
to the King's court as soon as thou art able."
So it was that Sir Percival fulfilled the promise of that buffet unto Sir
And now you shall hear how he found the Lady Yvette the Fair.
* * * * *
[Sidenote: Sir Percival cometh to the castle of Sir Percydes] Now after
Sir Percival had parted from Sir Gawaine, and Sir Geraint and Sir Kay, he
went his way in that direction he wist, and by and by, toward eventide, he
came again to the castle of Sir Percydes. And Sir Percydes was at home and
he welcomed Sir Percival with great joy and congratulations. For the fame
of Sir Percival was now abroad in all the world, so that Sir Percydes
welcomed him with great acclaim.
So Sir Percival sat down with Sir Percydes and they ate and drank together,
and, for the time, Sir Percival said nothing of that which was upon his
heart--for he was of a very continent nature and was in no wise hasty in
But after they had satisfied themselves with food and drink, then Sir
Percival spake to Sir Percydes of that which was upon his mind, saying:
"Dear friend, thou didst tell me that when I was ready for to come to thee
with a certain intent thou wouldst tell me who is the lady whose ring I
wear and where I shall find her. Now, I believe that I am a great deal more
worthy for to be her knight than I was when I first saw thee; wherefore I
am now come to beseech thee to redeem thy promise to me. Now tell me, I beg
of thee, who is that lady and where does she dwell?"
[Sidenote: Sir Percydes declares himself to Sir Percival] Then Sir
Percydes said: "Friend, I will declare to thee that which thou dost ask of
me. Firstly, that lady is mine own sister, hight Yvette, and she is the
daughter of King Pecheur. Secondly, thou shalt find her at the castle of my
father, which standeth upon the west coast of this land. Nor shalt thou
have any difficulty in finding that castle, for thou mayst easily come to
it by inquiring the way of those whom thou mayst meet in that region. But,
indeed, it hath been two years since I have seen my father and my sister,
and I know not how it is with them."
Then Sir Percival came to Sir Percydes and he put his arm about him and
kissed him upon either cheek, and he said: "Should I obtain the kind regard
of that lady, I know nothing that would more rejoice me than to know that
thou art her brother. For, indeed, I entertain a great deal of love for
At that Sir Percydes laughed for joy and he said: "Percival, wilt thou not
tell me of what house thou art come?" Percival said: "I will tell thee what
thou dost ask: my father is King Pellinore who was a very good, noble
knight of the court of King Arthur and of his Round Table."
Then Sir Percydes cried out with great amazement, saying: "That is very
marvellous! I would that I had known this before, for thy mother and my
mother were sisters of one father and one mother. So we are cousins
Then Sir Percival said: "This is great joy to me!" And his heart was
expanded with pleasure at finding that Sir Percydes was of his kindred and
that he was no longer alone in that part of the world.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival departs for the castle of King Pecheur] So Sir
Percival abided for two days with Sir Percydes and then he betook his way
to the westward in pursuance of that adventure. And he was upon the road
three days, and upon the morning of the fourth day he came, through
diligent inquiry, within sight of the castle of King Pecheur. This castle
stood upon a high crag of rock from which it arose against the sky so that
it looked to be a part of the crag. And it was a very noble and stately
castle, having many tall towers and many buildings within the walls
thereof. And a village of white houses of the fisher-folk gathered upon the
rocks beneath the castle walls like chicks beneath the shadow of their
And, behold! Percival saw the great sea for the first time in all his life,
and was filled with wonder at the huge waves that ran toward the shore and
burst upon the rocks, all white like snow. And he was amazed at the
multitude of sea fowl that flew about the rocks in such prodigious numbers
that they darkened the sky. Likewise he was astonished at the fisher-boats
that spread their white sails against the wind, and floated upon the water
like swans, for he had never seen their like before. So he sat his horse
upon a high rock nigh to the sea and gazed his fill upon those things that
were so wonderful to him.
Then after a while Sir Percival went forward to the castle. And as he drew
nigh to the castle he became aware that a very reverend man, whose hair and
beard were as white as snow, sat upon a cushion of crimson velvet upon a
rock that overlooked the sea. Two pages, richly clad in black and silver,
stood behind him; and the old man gazed out across the sea, and Sir
Percival saw that he neither spake nor moved. But when Sir Percival came
near to him the old man arose and went into the castle, and the two pages
took up the two crimson velvet cushions and followed him.
But Percival rode up to the castle, and he saw that the gateway of the
castle stood open, wherefore he rode into the courtyard of the castle. And
when he had come into the courtyard, two attendants immediately appeared
and took his horse and assisted him to dismount; but neither of these
attendants said aught to him, but both were as silent as deaf-mutes.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival finds King Pecheur] Then Percival entered the hall
and there he saw the old man whom he had before seen, and the old man sat
in a great carved chair beside a fire of large logs of wood. And Sir
Percival saw that the eyes of the old man were all red and that his cheeks
were channeled with weeping; and Percival was abashed at the sadness of his
aspect. Nevertheless, he came to where the old man sat and saluted him with
great reverence, and he said: "Art thou King Pecheur?" And the old man
answered, "Aye, for I am both a fisher and a sinner" (for that word Pecheur
meaneth both fisher and sinner).
Then Sir Percival said: "Sire, I bring thee greetings from thy son, Sir
Percydes, who is a very dear friend to me. And likewise I bring thee
greeting from myself: for I am Percival, King Pellinore's son, and thy
Queen and my mother are sisters. And likewise I come to redeem a pledge,
for, behold, here is the ring of thy daughter Yvette, unto whom I am
pledged for her true knight. Wherefore, having now achieved a not
dishonorable renown in the world of chivalry, I am come to beseech her
kindness and to redeem my ring which she hath upon her finger and to give
her back her ring again."
Then King Pecheur fell to weeping in great measure and he said: "Percival
thy fame hath reached even to this remote place, for every one talketh of
thee with great unction. But, touching my daughter Yvette, if thou wilt
come with me I will bring thee to her."
So King Pecheur arose and went forth and Sir Percival followed him. And
King Pecheur brought Sir Percival to a certain tower; and he brought him up
a long and winding stair; and at the top of the stairway was a door. And
King Pecheur opened the door and Sir Percival entered the apartment.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival findeth the Lady Yvette] The windows of the
apartment stood open, and a cold wind came in thereat from off the sea; and
there stood a couch in the middle of the room, and it was spread with black
velvet; and the Lady Yvette lay reclined upon the couch, and, lo! her face
was like to wax for whiteness, and she neither moved nor spake, but only
lay there perfectly still; for she was dead.
Seven waxen candles burned at her head, and seven others at her feet, and
the flames of the candles spread and wavered as the cold wind blew upon
them. And the hair of her head (as black as those raven feathers that Sir
Percival had beheld lying upon the snow) moved like threads of black silk
as the wind blew in through the window--but the Lady Yvette moved not nor
stirred, but lay like a statue of marble all clad in white.
Then at the first Sir Percival stood very still at the door-way as though
he had of a sudden been turned into stone. Then he went forward and stood
beside the couch and held his hands very tightly together and gazed at the
Lady Yvette where she lay. So he stood for a long while, and he wist not
why it was that he felt like as though he had been turned into a stone,
without such grief at his heart as he had thought to feel thereat. (For
indeed, his spirit was altogether broken though he knew it not.)
[Sidenote: Of the grief of Sir Percival] Then he spake unto that still
figure, and he said: "Dear lady, is it thus I find thee after all this long
endeavor of mine? Yet from Paradise, haply, thou mayst perceive all that I
have accomplished in thy behalf. So shalt thou be my lady always to the end
of my life and I will have none other than thee. Wherefore I herewith give
thee thy ring again and take mine own in its stead." Therewith, so
speaking, he lifted that hand (all so cold like the snow) and took his ring
from off her finger and put her ring back upon it again.
Then King Pecheur said, "Percival, hast thou no tears?"
And Percival said, "Nay, I have none." Therewith he turned and left that
place, and King Pecheur went with him.
After that Sir Percival abided in that place for three days, and King
Pecheur and his lady Queen and their two young sons who dwelt at that place
made great pity over him, and wept a great deal. But Sir Percival said but
little in reply and wept not at all.
* * * * *
And now I shall tell you of that wonderful vision that came unto Sir
Percival at this place upon Christmas day.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival beholds the grail] For on the third day (which was
Christmas day) it chanced that Sir Percival sat alone in the hall of the
castle, and he meditated upon the great sorrow that lay upon him. And as he
sat thus this very wonderful thing befell him: He suddenly beheld two
youths enter that hall. And the faces of the two youths shone with
exceeding brightness, and their hair shone like gold, and their raiment was
very bright and glistering like to gold. One of these youths bare in his
hand a spear of mighty size, and blood dropped from the point of the spear;
and the other youth bare in his hand a chalice of pure gold, very wonderful
to behold, and he held the chalice in a napkin of fine cambric linen.
Then, at first, Sir Percival thought that that which he beheld was a vision
conjured up by the deep sorrow that filled his heart, and he was afeard.
But the youth who bare the chalice spake in a voice extraordinarily high
and clear. And he said: "Percival! Percival! be not afraid! This which thou
here beholdest is the Sangreal, and that is the Spear of Sorrow. What then
may thy sorrow be in the presence of these holy things that brought with
them such great sorrow and affliction of soul that they have become
entirely sanctified thereby! Thus, Percival, should thy sorrow so sanctify
thy life and not make it bitter to thy taste. For so did this bitter cup
become sanctified by the great sorrow that tasted of it."
Percival said: "Are these things real or are they a vision that I behold?"
He who bare the chalice said, "They are real." And he who bare the spear
said, "They are real."
Then a great peace and comfort came to Sir Percival's heart and they never
left him to the day of his death.
Then they who bare the Sangreal and the Spear went out of the hall, and Sir
Percival kneeled there for a while after they had gone and prayed with
great devotion and with much comfort and satisfaction.
And this was the first time that any of those knights that were of King
Arthur's Round Table ever beheld that holy chalice, the which Sir Percival
was one of three to achieve in after-years.
So when Sir Percival came forth from that hall, all those who beheld him
were astonished at the great peace and calmness that appeared to emanate
from him. But he told no one of that miraculous vision which he had just
beheld, and, though it appeareth in the history of these things, yet it was
not then made manifest.
Then Sir Percival said to King Pecheur, his uncle and to his aunt and to
their sons: "Now, dear friends, the time hath come when I must leave you.
For I must now presently go to the court of King Arthur in obedience to his
commands and to acknowledge myself unto my brother, Sir Lamorack."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival departs for court] So that day Sir Percival set
forth with intent to go to Camelot, where King Arthur was then holding
court in great estate of pomp. And Sir Percival reached Camelot upon the
fourth day from that time and that was during the feasts of Christmas-tide.
Now King Arthur sat at those feasts and there were six score of very noble
company seated with him. And the King's heart was greatly uplifted and
expanded with mirth and good cheer. Then, while all were feasting with
great concord, there suddenly came into that hall an herald-messenger; the
whom, when King Arthur beheld him, he asked: "What message hast thou
brought?" Upon this the messenger said: "Lord, there hath come one asking
permission to enter here whom you will be very well pleased to see." The
King said, "Who is it?" And the herald-messenger said, "He saith his name
Upon this King Arthur arose from where he sat and all the others uprose
with him and there was a great sound of loud voices; for the fame of Sir
Percival had waxed very great since he had begun his adventures. So King
Arthur and the others went down the hall for to meet Sir Percival.
Then the door opened and Sir Percival came into that place, and his face
shone very bright with peace and good-will; and he was exceedingly comely.
[Sidenote: Sir Percival is received with joy] King Arthur said, "Art thou
Percival?" And Percival said, "I am he." Thereupon King Arthur took Sir
Percival's head into his hands, and he kissed him upon the brow. And Sir
Percival kissed King Arthur's hand and he kissed the ring of royalty upon
the King's finger, and so he became a true knight in fealty unto King
Then Sir Percival said: "Lord, have I thy leave to speak?" And King Arthur
said, "Say on." Sir Percival said, "Where is Sir Lamorack?" And King Arthur
said, "Yonder he is." Then Sir Percival perceived where Sir Lamorack stood
among the others, and he went to Sir Lamorack and knelt down before him;
and Sir Lamorack was very much astonished, and said: "Why dost thou kneel
to me, Percival?" Then Sir Percival said, "Dost thou know this ring?"
Then Sir Lamorack knew his father's ring and he cried out in a loud voice:
"That is my father's ring; how came ye by it?"
Percival said: "Our mother gave it to me, for I am thy brother."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival declares himself to Sir Lamorack] Upon this Sir
Lamorack cried out with great passion; and he flung his arms about Sir
Percival, and he kissed him repeatedly upon the face. And so ardent was the
great love and the great passion that moved him that all those who stood
about could in no wise contain themselves, but wept at that which they
Then, after a while, King Arthur said: "Percival, come with me, for I have
somewhat to show thee."
[Sidenote: Sir Percival is made Knight of the Round Table] So King Arthur
and Sir Lamorack and Sir Percival and several others went unto that
pavilion which was the pavilion of the Round Table, and there King Arthur
showed Sir Percival a seat which was immediately upon the right hand of the
And upon the back of that seat there was a name emblazoned in letters of
gold; and the name was this:
PERCIVAL OF GALES
Then King Arthur said: "Behold, Sir Percival, this is thy seat, for four
days ago that name appeared most miraculously, of a sudden, where thou
seest it; wherefore that seat is thine."
Then Sir Percival was aware that that name had manifested itself at the
time when the Sangreal had appeared unto him in the castle of King Pecheur,
and he was moved with a great passion of love and longing for the Lady
Yvette; so that, because of the strength of that passion, it took upon it
the semblance of a terrible joy. And he said to himself: "If my lady could
but have beheld these, how proud would she have been! But, doubtless, she
now looketh down from Paradise and beholdeth us and all that we do."
Thereupon he lifted up his eyes as though to behold her, but she was not
there, but only the roof of that pavilion.
But he held his peace and said naught to anyone of those thoughts that
With this I conclude for the present the adventures of Sir Percival with
only this to say: that thereafter, as soon as might be, he and Sir Lamorack
went up into the mountains where their mother dwelt and brought her down
thence into the world, and that she was received at the court of King
Arthur with great honor and high regard until, after a while, she entered
into a nunnery and took the veil.
Likewise it is to be said that Sir Percival lived, as he had vowed to do, a
virgin knight for all of his life; for he never paid court to any lady from
that time, but ever held within the sanctuary of his mind the image of that
dear lady who waited for him in Paradise until he should come unto her in
such season as God should see fit.
But you must not think that this is all that there is to tell of that
noble, gentle and worthy young knight whose history we have been
considering. For after this he performed many glorious services to the
great honor of his knighthood and achieved so many notable adventures that
the world spoke of him as being second in worship only to Sir Launcelot of
the Lake. Yea; there were many who doubted whether Sir Launcelot himself
was really a greater knight than Sir Percival; and though I may admit that
Sir Launcelot had the greater prowess, yet Sir Percival was, certes, the
more pure in heart and transparent of soul of those two.
So, hereafter, if God so wills, I shall tell more of Sir Percival, for I
shall have much to write concerning him when I have to tell of the
achievement of the Sangreal which he beheld in that vision at the Castle of
King Pecheur as aforetold.
So, for this time, no more of these adventures, but fare you well.
Thus endeth the particular history of those three worthy, noble, excellent
knights-champion--Sir Launcelot of the Lake, Sir Tristram of Lyonesse, and
Sir Percival of Gales.
And I do hope that you may have found pleasure in considering their lives
and their works as I have done. For as I wrote of their behavior and
pondered upon it, meseemed they offered a very high example that anyone
might follow to his betterment who lives in this world where so much that
is ill needs to be amended.
But though I have told so much, yet, as I have just said, there remain many
other things to tell concerning Sir Launcelot and Sir Percival, which may
well afford anyone pleasure to read. These I shall recount in another
volume at another time, with such particularity as those histories may
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